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Walsall 0 Notts County 0 - Report and pictures

Walsall | Sport | Published:

Walsall's relegation fears remain after they were held at home by Notts County in League One.

Jordan Cook missed a great chance to put the hosts ahead in the opening seconds when he lobbed wide.

The striker also hit both the bar and the post in the second half, as the home side held the upper hand for large periods.

Goalkeeper Richard O'Donnell - in his 100th appearance for the club - saved well from Liam Noble and Gary Jones late on, but it was the Saddlers who will feel they should have claimed the win.

The result keeps Dean Smith's men three points clear of County and the drop zone ahead of Monday's trip to Peterborough.

But they will feel they have wasted an opportunity to ease the pressure after a game in which they failed to take their chances.

Smith made three changes to the side which lost 1-0 at Chesterfield last Saturday with Kieron Morris, recalled from a loan spell at Wrexham earlier this week, going into the side in place of Anthony Forde.

Romaine Sawyers, back from international duty, replaced James Baxendale while Michael Cain was recalled with Sam Mantom dropping to the bench.

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With Tom Bradshaw again missing with a hamstring injury, Cook started up front and should have put the Saddlers ahead inside the opening 30 seconds.

A dreadful back header by County centre-back Haydn Hollis put Cook in on goal but while his lob beat visiting keeper Roy Carroll it also sailed wide of the post.

The striker had another opening soon after but again sent his effort off target after good work by Morris, who also sent a drive straight at Carroll as the hosts dominated the early exchanges.

A pull back by full-back Ben Purkiss bounced tantalisingly across the box with no Saddlers player there to provide the final touch, before Cook shot off target once again after great work by Sawyers and Jordy Hiwula.

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Walsall (4-2-3-1): O'Donnell, Purkiss, J Chambers, O'Connor, Taylor, Cain, A Chambers, Morris (Forde 75), Sawyers, Cook (Grimes 75), Hiwula (Bakayoko 83).

Substitutes not used: MacGillivray (GK), Downing, Mantom, Kinsella.

Notts County (4-3-1-2): Carroll, Dumbuya, Hollis, Mullins, Newton, Jones, Williams, McCourt (Wroe 82), Burke (Noble 68), Spencer (Bajner 58), Thompson

Substitutes not used: Pilkington (GK), Adams, Smith, Edwards.

Referee: Graham Horwood (Bedfordshire)

The latter was the next to see a chance go begging as a deep cross from Andy Taylor found him unmarked at the far post.

But instead of finishing first time, he tried to bring the ball down and mis-controlled, allowing Carroll to gather.

It almost proved a costly miss, as County's Graham Burke let fly from 25 yards and O'Donnell was forced to tip over.

Garry Thompson shot wide for the visitors early in the second period, while Hiwula did the same for the Saddlers.

The hosts continued to look the more dangerous going forward and a near move ended with Adam Chambers seeing an effort blocked at the last second by Hayden Mullins.

Sibling James Chambers then saw a header from a Morris corner deflect just wide of the post.

The agony only continued, as Cook sent a Chambers knockdown onto the bar from close range and then hit the post from close range.

It was all in the space of a minute, in which Carroll also pushed a deflected shot from the striker round the post in acrobatic fashion.

County had their backs to the wall but almost stunned the hosts when O'Donnell was forced to push a dipping effort from substitute Liam Noble wide.

There were also huge cries for a spot-kick when Thompson appeared to be pulled down as he looked to reach Jones' cross.

O'Donnell then saved superbly again at his near post from Jones as County looked to steal all three points.

For them the draw was not the worst result. For the Saddlers, the concerns remain.

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